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Gareth Southgate reveals how James Maddison forced his way into England World Cup squad

England manager Gareth Southgate has outlined his reasons for including Leicester playmaker James Maddison in his 26-player World Cup squad.

Maddison had initially been tipped to miss out on the squad despite a wave of public pressure and support, but was then revealed to be a surprise inclusion around an hour or so before Southgate confirmed his Three Lions party.

Maddison has only been capped once by England before – way back in 2019 – but his early season form has helped Leicester overturn a difficult start to the Premier League season.

The 25-year-old has six goals and four assists to his name, though it’s overall creativity, influence on the game and quality at the important moments that have stood out most.

At his squad reveal press conference, Southgate admitted that his irresistable recent form was the main factor behind his decision to pick Maddison.

“He’s playing really well,” Southgate said. “Look, we’ve always said he’s a good player, he’s earned the right.

“We think he can give us something slightly different to the other attacking players that we’ve got. I think at various stages there have been different conversations and debates about James, there were moments where ahead of the Euros I don’t think he was in contention, he had a problem with his hip, and then September was probably a fair debate [over his exclusion].

“But I think he’s playing as well as any of the attacking players in this country. He’s different to the others, we have different types of threat, I think we could need that.”

One player who missed out on the squad is Roma striker Tammy Abraham, who has endured a difficult few months in the Italian capital.

On his decision to omit the former Chelsea striker from his squad, Southgate said: “Tammy’s had a poor run of scoring form at the wrong time. It’s not a case where we’re three or four weeks away from a finals and the start of the first match, we’re now ten days [away].

“Form could be important. We don’t know really any of the players we’re watching their club form, but we don’t really know until we see them face-to-face and on the training pitch.

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